I’ve lived on the Gulf of Mexico at the Atlantic Ocean but in my opinion it’s tough to match the beauty and versatility of the chain of lakes, creeks and rivers that wind through the twin cities. I know I am blessed to have the option of riding the designated bike paths around the lakes to and from work. The views are gorgeous and, let’s face it, they feel a little safer than the busy streets that run between downtown Minneapolis and my home in the East Harriet area. Still, most days time is not on my side. I’ve mapped the various routes I could take between work and home and it appears the lake paths will add about a mile on each leg of my trip. A longer commute is not something I consider to be a perk of my personal commuter challenge. So there’s my dilemma: scenic or straight forward?
Today I rolled out of the garage with a knot in my stomach. I’ve been debating for weeks which route I should ride. If you are one of those people who plans everything in life then you understand my angst. I dread uncertainty. I truly had no idea which road I would take this morning. And I worried I’d be late to work if I took the scenic route. But I remembered a photojournalist and avid bike commuter tell me, “Lyndale Avenue is horrible. Avoid it.” So I stayed a few blocks west, bouncing between Aldrich and Bryant Avenues. I was practically alone out there at 7am! It was terrific. The car commute that usually takes about 20 minutes to drive up 35W and park in a lot took me 40 minutes door-to-door on my bike.
So I guess, for now, I’ve chosen a different kind of scenic route. I get to check out people’s gardens. And I can still take a lake path when I’m not in a rush. But the serious bike commuters I’ve been talking to say winter will throw a whole slew of wrenches in my plan. You know how often the side streets get plowed. Imagine trying to navigate them on a bike. I’m already very concerned about how this will work out come February. Apparently there’s a heated debate over which bike tires to use in the winter. I’ll fill you in down the road. But for now I’ll share the winter cycling advice given to me by WCCO-TV photojournalist Jose Pascual, “You just need to learn how to fall.” Oh boy. This could get ugly.
Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.